Archives for February 2016

Your Feet during Pregnancy

pregnant feet__1453482885_108.89.137.58So much is changing about your body during pregnancy – from your head all the way down to your feet.  While we tend to notice facial changes and a growing baby bump, many new moms aren’t expecting changes to their feet.  But it is very common for several things to happen to your feet during pregnancy.  We’re taking a closer look at these changes today.

Your Feet May Swell During Pregnancy

Pregnancy edema is quite common, especially in your feet.  This prenatal swelling occurs due to the additional blood and fluids that accumulate in your body as you nurture your growing baby.  As it grows larger, your uterus puts pressure on pelvic veins and the vena cava that returns blood from the lower part of your body back to your heart.  This build-up of pressure can cause swelling in the feet, toes and ankles.  Swelling can be worse at nighttime or in hotter weather conditions.  Because pregnancy edema can be painful and may be a sign of larger complications, the best thing to do is prop your feet and try to relieve some of the immediate swelling.  Also, be sure not to wear clothing that is too tight and don’t stand or sit for extremely long periods of time.  Normal pregnancy swelling of the feet usually subsides quickly after childbirth.  So those tootsies of yours won’t look like giant sausages forever!

Your Feet May Grow During Pregnancy

Anecdotally, you may have heard that your feet will grow during pregnancy and not return to their previous size.  Well, it’s more than just an old wives tale for many new moms.  Scientific studies prove that women do have longer feet and smaller arches after childbirth, especially first time moms.  On average, women’s feet grew 0.1 to 0.4 inches and their arches decrease too.  For some women, feet changes are so drastic they have to buy new shoes after having a baby.  The cause of foot growth during pregnancy may be the increased hormones that loosen ligaments to accommodate the extra weight and strain of pregnancy on the body.  These may never tighten to their normal range and therefore leave feet longer.  Also, weight can put pressure on arches and permanently flatten them.  While it may be slightly expensive, we can’t think of a better reason to go shoe shopping!

Your Feet May Be Dry During Pregnancy

Dry skin occurs in some pregnant women due to hormonal changes.  This can affect all areas of the body, including your feet.  Dry feet from pregnancy can be exacerbated by exposure to the sun or cold weather.  Usually dry skin is not a sign of any problems during pregnancy although some women develop pruritic urticarial papules and plaques (PUPP) that are marked by itchy patches of red raised bumps.  Topical medication can help soothe this type of skin rash during pregnancy.  Dry skin may be a sign of dehydration, which is not healthy during pregnancy (or any other time of life) and can lead to preterm labor.  If you notice dry skin on your body or feet, be sure to drink lots of water and use a daily moisturizer on your feet.  Better yet, go for a foot massage and let someone else rub cool lotion on your feet for awhile!

Many things are changing in your body and your feet are no exception.  While some pregnancy symptoms are less than pleasant, keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll make it through with a bundle of joy at the other end of the rainbow.

Breastfeeding and Teething

It’s a common myth that you should wean your baby when he begins to cut his first teeth.  Many mothers fear that breastfeeding a baby with teeth will be painful.  However, there is no reason to wean during teething.  In fact, breastfeeding may comfort your baby during this challenging time.  Breastfeeding and teething can co-exist peacefully if you support your baby properly.

Most babies cut their first teeth at around six months of age.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for six months and continuing to breastfeed for a year or more even after introducing solid foods.  Therefore, medical professionals clearly advocate for breastfeeding through much of the teething phase in your baby’s life.

While teething, your baby may exhibit some unusual behavior and may show signs of discomfort on his gums.  Babies usually seek relief by gumming and biting down on objects.  And many moms fear that that need will come during breastfeeding, which could really hurt your nipples.  However, the truth is that if your baby is latched properly, his gums are far back on the areola and his tongue is covering his teeth.  While sucking, your baby cannot possible bite you.  It’s when your baby is not latched properly that biting can occur.

teething and breastfeeding__1453482979_108.89.137.58To ensure a proper latch, especially during teething, remind your baby to open his mouth wide before clamping onto the breast.  You can use a finger to help the process if necessary.  Also, ensure your baby is in a comfortable nursing position.  Sometimes teething causes nasal congestion and ear infections so different nursing positions may be necessary to help your baby breath while suckling.

Some babies love to nurse while teething because they find it comforting.  Others are fussy nursers during times of teething because they are in so much pain.  Try to ease your baby’s pain by offering cold items for your baby to chew on such as teething rings, frozen washcloths or frozen foods (if your baby is eating solids).  Try to numb your baby’s teeth with these items before nursing to help relieve the pain long enough for a good feeding.

Often a teething baby will gum your nipples for specific reasons during a feeding.  These may include general painfulness from emerging teeth, he’s full, he’s congested, milk isn’t flowing abundantly, he’s distracted, he wants your attention, or he is uninterested in eating.  Watch your baby closely to identify why your baby is gumming your breasts.  He may need a break for a cold teething toy and then is happy to return to nourishment.

If your baby does bite while breastfeeding, pull him towards you and make him unlatch.  Stop the feeding immediately and tell him that he cannot bite, biting hurts.  Repeat this process every time your baby bites to reinforce that this behavior is unacceptable.  Most babies learn quickly to stop biting.

Whether your baby gums or bites occasionally or not, your nipples may be sore when your baby is teething.  Excess saliva can lead to this nipple irritation.  If you are uncomfortable, rinse nipples with cool water or use lanolin cream to soothe them.

Teething usually happens in spurts.  Although your baby’s teething pattern may cause a little havoc, remember it is only temporary and things will get back to normal soon.  And your baby’s adorable smile will be even cuter with the addition of a few new teeth.

Exercising with Baby: Fun Workouts with your Baby

Exercising with baby is a fun and healthful way to spend time with your little one.  Many new moms complain that they don’t have time to fit in workouts.  When you incorporate your baby, you can make playtime work to your advantage.  There are many creative ways of exercising with baby.  Here are our favorite ideas:

Stretching:  After giving birth, you’ll want to resume exercise slowly.  The best way to begin the process is a solid stretching routine for a few days prior to formal exercise.  Your baby can be a fantastic part of your stretching motivation just by lying with you and looking adorable.  Try various yoga stretch moves like up dog or cobra, downward facing dog, straddle splits, sitting pike and stationary lunge and squat poses.

Dancing:  You and your baby will benefit from a dance party.  Babies usually love movement and a gentle bouncy dance may even elicit a first smile.  You can dance with your baby by holding her closely or even with her in a front carrier.  Be sure to support her head thoroughly and don’t do any large, jarring or abrasive moves.  Do put on some fun music and rock, sway and jam to the beat.

Walking/Jogging/Running:  Grab your all-terrain stroller and get moving by walking, jogging or running.  It will do you and your baby some good to get fresh air and enjoy a change of scenery.  Start by walking and gradually build-up to a jog or a run as your fitness level allows.  Also use the time to talk to your baby about what you are seeing – from nature, to cars, to people you meet along the way.

exercise with baby__1456417275_162.206.228.38Baby-Lifting:  Many common exercises you may do with weights can be performed with your baby as resistance.  Weighted squats and lunges and many upper body moves can be done holding your baby instead of free weights or bands.  Your baby can sit on your lap for resistance as you do sit-ups and a variety of other abdominal exercises.  Or try “flying” your baby in the air with her lying on your legs.

Biking:  Once your baby is able to sit up with assistance and hold her own head, you can bike with your baby in a baby seat attached to your bicycle.  Be sure both of you are wearing protective helmets and stay on safe paths away from traffic, sharp turns and other dangerous situations.  Cycling is great for the legs and the added weight of your baby will make your workout even harder.

Hiking:  With your baby in a front or back carrier, hiking trails are wonderful way to enjoy exercising with baby in nature.  Whether you have local access or take weekend excursions for hiking adventures, you can begin to instill a love of nature while burning calories and toning your muscles.  If you hike with your spouse, take turns carrying the baby so you both get the benefits.

Workout Routines:  Many gyms, community centers or fitness spots offer mommy-and-me workouts that are designed for you to exercise with your baby.  You’ll also get to meet other mothers with babies in your community while you learn some new moves you can practice at home.  Alternatively, you can buy workout DVDs that provide exercise routines you can do with your baby.

Tips and Reminders for Exercising with Baby:

  • Always make your baby’s safety the top priority.  If you are concerned that you may injure your baby, don’t take the risk.
  • Be sure you are cleared for exercise before you begin a new routine.  Typically doctors recommend resuming exercise at least 3 or 4 weeks postpartum for vaginal deliveries and longer for c-sections.
  • Workout when your baby is in a good mood. If your tot is cranky, chances are she won’t enjoy the stimulation and you’ll never complete your full workout.
  • If your baby is lying on the ground during your exercises, provide a soft, clean surface like a mat or blanket to keep her comfortable.

Have a great workout!

Your Very First Nursing Bra

Do you remember getting your first bra?  It was probably thrilling or maybe a little embarrassing depending on how it happened.  Ever since, bras have been an important part of your wardrobe.  Hopefully you’ve found comfort and style in your bras over the years.  It’s exciting all over again every time you find a terrific bra that makes you feel great, stand a little taller and gives you tons of confidence. Now that you’re having a baby, you have this great opportunity once again.  Your very first nursing bra is not just a time for functionality; it’s a right of passage into motherhood.

But wait, you’ve never shopped for a nursing bra before.  What on earth do you need?  Well, first you should consider all the things you like about your regular bras.  Do they mold to your body perfectly?  Are they super soft?  Do you love the patterns and colors in your intimates drawer?  Do you have a bra for every aspect of your life?  These factors are all things you want to consider when selecting your very first nursing bra.  And when you find a great brand, you can achieve all of these elements in your nursing bra wardrobe.

L345-Black-prod-pageYour very first nursing bra is probably something you want to buy towards the end of your pregnancy.  This is when your breasts are growing even more to prepare for breastfeeding and your regular bras may begin to feel uncomfortable.  Usually women go up at least one band and one cup size while nursing, and sometimes even more.  The best maternity and beginning nursing bras will be those with a great deal of stretch and multiple hook-and-eye closures to accommodate for size fluctuations for the remainder of pregnancy and in the early weeks of breastfeeding.  It’s a good idea to start with three nursing bras – one to wear, one in the wash and one in the drawer ready for the next day.

Consider selecting several styles for your first nursing bras.  A traditional cotton clasped drop-down cup is a great choice.  You may want to try a slide-over cup as well.  These varying styles offer different options for breast access.  You may find some easier than others, and some are better for at home, others more suited for on-the-go.  Be sure to purchase at least one sleep bra with a front-closure.  These are perfect for breastfeeding throughout the night so you are not lying on uncomfortable back clasps.

Also, consider what your life will be like after your baby is born.  If you are staying home with your baby, your needs will differ from someone who is returning to work shortly after your baby is born.  You will want to wear nursing bras to work if you plan to pump and/or feed during your work day or immediately upon returning home.  Structured, padded bras may be a better choice for returning to work.  If you want to get back into your workout routine as soon as your doctor gives you the “all clear,” be sure to have a sports nursing bra in your drawer.

Of course, don’t forget personal style and femininity when shopping for your very first nursing bra. Select styles and colors that you love and that work for your wardrobe.  Breastfeeding is known to help you return to your pre-baby weight faster, so you may be back in your regular clothes before you know it.  There are plenty of sexy, cute and vibrant styles that will meet your taste.  Don’t sacrifice fashion when it comes to nursing bras.  You’ll feel more comfortable and confident when you are wearing a nursing bra that makes you look and feel great.

Shopping for your very first nursing bra should be as fun and exciting as your first bra ever.  Peruse the selection and keep our tips in mind to get the best nursing bras for you.  Enjoy!

Picking a Signature Accessory for your Baby

For the trendiest moms who want to pass along a passion for fashion to their kiddos, picking a signature accessory is an easy and consistent way to keep baby in style.  A baby’s signature accessory may compliment that of mom or dad, or be as unique as your baby.  Many parents employ a variety of accessories, but a signature accessory is one that your baby wears nearly every day.  We’ve got some fun ideas for your baby’s signature accessory:

Ironic Onesies and Tees:  Here’s a simple, clever way for your baby to make a statement – print it on their onesies and t-shirts.  While many manufacturers make clothes with cute comments, some brands are known for their truly witty and hilarious baby clothes commentary.  Or, if you don’t find any you like, you can draw on your inner-writer and have your own made on a variety of websites.  If sarcasm and humor are your family’s style, make a point to dress your baby in ironic onesies and tees daily.  You’ll keep yourself, friends and strangers amused.

Hats:  Many parents put their newborns in hats for warmth and may continue to use them during winter months to trap in heat or summer months to block sun exposure.  Trendier parents will employ hats as a signature accessory all year long.  They’ll put their babies in baseball caps, fedoras, beanies, cowboy hats and a numerous other hats that may look like animals, fruits or any other seasonal themes.  Whether or not you are a hat person, all babies are hat people and look adorable in this accent piece.

picking signature accessory__1453482165_108.89.137.58Bowties:  For baby boys, bowties are uber trendy and an easy way to jazz up an otherwise dull outfit.  Often parents of boys miss out on getting to dress their babies in frills and do elaborate hair dos like with girls.  A bowtie is your opportunity to meet your inner dress-up desires with your baby boy.  You can cultivate a collection of bowties that match your son’s wardrobe, but do be sure they are not too tight and never let your baby sleep in a bowtie.  We know this sophisticated signature will be a big hit.

Hair Bows:  Even bald baby girls can wear hair bows attached to elastic headbands.  As hair grows, bows can be attached with clips and then eventually tied into hair.  Again, you can collect bows that match your baby girl’s entire wardrobe.  For parents who are tired of saying that their baby is indeed a female, a bow is a dead giveaway and super sweet too.

Diaper Covers:  Another cute idea for girls is diaper covers.  These range from simple and solid, to elaborate covers with bows, lace, flowers and frills.  For a baby girl who wears a lot of dresses, diaper covers are a cute, fun and matchy way to cover her bum.

Socks:  Most babies don’t need shoes but socks are a good idea to keep those tiny toes warm.  Socks are relatively inexpensive but come in lots of cute styles.  Some are designed to look like shoes.  Others have rattles on them to keep your baby entertained.  Still others are bright and colorful ways to add a signature accessory to your baby’s look.

Monograms:  For those who have the money or skill, monogramming clothes is a unique way to set your baby apart.  This classy signature is a special touch that fashionable parents often enjoy.  But do keep in mind that monogrammed clothes usually cannot be shared or sold after your baby is done using them.

So, what will you pick as the signature accessory for your baby?

How to get your Baby to Kick

Feeling your baby kick is one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy.  Especially for women who experience negative symptoms of pregnancy, your baby’s movement easies the suffering, if only temporary.  Kicking, punching and rolling around inside you may feel strange, but it is a true sign that your baby is thriving and helps you create a connection before your little one arrives.  Today we’re talking about baby kicks, including when you should expect the first signs of movement and how to get your baby to kick.

How to get baby to kick__1453481950_108.89.137.58First time expectant moms usually don’t feel kicking until 18 to 22 weeks.  Even then, the kicks may be faint and many moms are unsure that they are real baby movements.  Your baby is actually moving around well before the midway point in your pregnancy, but new moms usually don’t feel it.  Women who have had babies before may feel movement as early as 14 to 16 weeks because they are more aware of the sensation.  Early movements are called quickening, which feels like a fluttering in your stomach.  You may mistake it for digestion, but chances are, that’s your sweet little baby wiggling around.  If you don’t feel any movement by 24 weeks, you should see your healthcare professional to make sure your baby is doing OK.

As you may have seen in an ultrasound, your baby is practicing all sorts of movements and reflexes in utero.  In addition to kicking and punching, he’s flipping over, stretching, swallowing, yawning, pushing, twisting, sucking his thumb or fingers and hiccupping.  As you progress in your pregnancy, the movement will grow in size and force.  This will allow others, such as your partner and older children, to experience the movement too.  Sometimes kicks and punches are so large, your entire belly will move and others will be able to see the movement as well as feel it.

If you want to solicit movement, there are some things you can do to stimulate your baby  For peace of mind that your baby is OK or to show off your little tot’s karate moves, you may try to get your baby to kick.  Here are tips on how to get your baby to kick:

  • Babies in the womb are often lulled to sleep by a mother’s constant movement (which comes in handy once your baby is born!).  To wake up your sleeping baby, sit still and eat a snack.  He’ll probably wake up soon and start his familiar dance.
  • Play loud music or talk loudly.  Your baby can hear you and noises around you.
  • Press gently on your belly.  Sometimes you can get your baby to play a game of back-and-forth as he ponders who is tapping on his living quarters.
  • Drink something very cold or sugary.  This stimulation often gets a baby moving.
  • If you have been sitting or lying and aren’t feeling movement, get up and move somewhat quickly, like doing small jumps or dancing.  He may just need you to shake things up a bit.
  • Lie on your left side, which allows maximum oxygen and blood flow to your baby.

By 26 weeks, moms-to-be should be feeling frequent movement, although the rate may depend on the time of day and your particular baby’s habits.  If you are concerned about your baby’s lack of movement, do a kick test.  Try one of the above recommendations of how to get your baby to kick and then count how many movements you feel.  You should get about 10 forms of movement within a 2-hour span.  If you don’t record this much movement during your baby’s most active time a day, consult your doctor.  You may want to go in for a quick check-up to make sure everything is copasetic.

Feeling your baby kick is one of the many joys of pregnancy.  Embrace these special moments as your baby is showing signs of growth and development in your loving womb.

5 Things Not to Worry about with a Newborn

For many new parents, bringing home a newborn can be terrifying.  This tiny life has now been placed in your hands and you’re not exactly sure what you’re supposed to be doing.  This fear of parenting causes stress for new parents.  While there is a lot to think about as you enter this amazing stage in your life, there are some things not to worry about with a newborn.  Today we’re releasing you from stressing about 5 of the most common new parent concerns.

Holding Your Baby Too Much

Your parents may tell you that you’ll spoil your baby if you hold her too much.  That’s actually NOT true!  Babies want to be held and touched.  In fact, babies need it for their mental and emotional development.  The sense of touch is a babies earliest connection to love and safety, so being held makes your baby feel secure in this great big world on 5 things not to worry about with newborn__1453337181_108.89.137.58the other side of the womb.  Most experts agree that you should hold and comfort your newborn every time she cries, and most would recommend continuing this practice throughout infancy and early toddlerhood, with a few exceptions such as sleep training.  Newborns need to know that a parent or childcare provider will always be there to take care of her basic needs and pacify her fears.  This not only calms babies in the short term, it helps them cope with stressful situations in the future as well.

Whether or Not Your Nursery is Complete

With all the things you need to accomplish before your baby arrives, don’t freak out if the nursery is not ready for a magazine photo shoot by the time you give birth.  Trust us, your baby doesn’t care and she will not know the difference.  As long as you have a warm place for your baby to sleep – whether it is in a barren room or a bassinet beside your own bed – your baby will be just fine.  It will be months before your baby really absorbs anything special you may have placed in her nursery, including toys, bright colors, mobiles or pictures.  Most parents feel pressure to complete their nurseries before their babies are born but this is an artificial deadline.  Don’t let it stress you out.

The Amount of Time Spent Breastfeeding

Each mother and baby pair have a unique breastfeeding experience.  The amount of time your baby spends breastfeeding is not an indication of how much milk she is drinking.  Some mothers have quick let-downs and their milk flows fast.  For others, the flow takes awhile to begin and trickles in slowly.  Also, some babies are fast feeders – they drink what they want and are ready to move on to the next activity.  Other babies like to linger at the breast and find comfort sucking, even after they are full and there is little milk left.  Mothers often fret that their babies aren’t getting enough to eat because they don’t spend much time breastfeeding.  The true indications that your baby is eating well are weight gain, consistent soiled diapers and a sense of satisfaction or contentment after eating.

Certain Milestones

Milestones were initiated by medical experts to help give parents a range of normalcy for childhood development.  However, many parents are distraught when their babies don’t meet certain milestones within the “appropriate” timeframe.  What is often lost in developmental milestones is that some milestones are never met and are not a big deal.  For instance, when your baby learns to roll over or crawl is not necessarily a sign of a handicap.  Some babies take their sweet time rolling over and are perfectly happy lying exactly where they have been placed.  And some babies never crawl at all, but rather find a different mode of transportation before walking.  Talking is another milestone that new parents worry about.  While not talking by three years old may be a sign of a larger issue, not having a first word until well after your baby’s first birthday is no cause for concern.

Baby Acne and Other Minor Skin Conditions

Thanks to a mother’s raging hormones during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, newborns sometimes develop baby acne.  It may not be pleasing to look at, but it is harmless for your baby and will probably go away within a few months after birth.  You can clean facial skin with a gentle baby soap and otherwise let the blemishes run their course.  Other minor skin conditions that occur in newborns are dry flaky skin, cradle cap and diaper rash.  None of these are signs of anything serious unless they become extremely inflamed, cause bleeding or are upsetting your baby greatly.  Most of these conditions can be treated by keeping skin clean and moisturized and using over-the-counter topical creams and ointments designed for babies.

 

Signs Your Baby Loves You

Falling in love with your baby is not hard to do, but feeling the same affection back isn’t as obvious.  Despite their lack of ability to give you big hugs and kisses and say “I love you, mom,” babies show their love everyday.  You just have to recognize what they are telling you.  Today we’re sharing signs your baby loves you just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Your baby knows your voice.  Your baby began hearing your voice around the mid-point of your pregnancy.  So it’s no wonder that the sound of you talking is the most delightful melody to his ears.  He would rather hear your voice than anything else in the world and he will turn to you when he hears it.

Your baby opens his mouth when you are near.  Your scent is also completely familiar to your baby.  No matter how many days it has been since you bathed, your baby loves the way you smell and will open his mouth to breathe you in.  Your breast milk also smells wonderful to your baby and he can identify it among other women’s breast milk.  Plus, if you are breastfeeding, you always smell like breast milk to your baby.

Your baby mimics your expressions.  Your baby may not be able to see well at birth, but over time he will take to staring at you to soak in all of your beautiful features.  He is learning you just like you go gaga over every inch of Signs baby loves you__1452885465_50.243.196.179him.  Once his vision clears, your baby will try to emulate your facial expressions, which is a true sign that he is fascinated by your every move.

Your baby cries when you are gone.  Separation anxiety may feel dreadful for you, but it’s actually a sign that your baby loves you so much, he can’t stand to be apart.  Usually separation anxiety doesn’t set in until later in infancy, and the more you are separated early in the life, the less severe it will be.  But rather than feeling guilty and regretting leaving your baby, take separation anxiety as a sign that your baby loves you enough to get that upset.

Your baby lights up when you enter a room.  Your baby may not always notice you are gone, but he will certainly notice when you’re back.  Once he sees you his face may light up with elation.  He may even reach for you or cry to be picked up because he longs for your touch.

Your baby smiles and laughs.  Babies typically give their first voluntary smiles out of joy at around two months of age.  One day, out of the blue, your baby will find all those silly noises and faces you’ve been making absolutely hilarious.  He’ll smile for a few months and then start to giggle.  Giggles become laughs until he is full on chortling at you on a regular basis.  If ever you wondered if you have a talent for comedy, look to your baby for reassurance that you are hysterical.

Your baby talks to you.  All that baby babble may sound like gibberish to you but your baby is really telling you some important things.  He feels very comfortable with you and he wants to talk to you like he hears you doing with others.  While his words haven’t formed with any clarity yet, babbling is an essential part of language development.  Make a point to expressively talk back to your baby to let him know you, too, are interested in having a loving conversation.

Your baby looks for you and checks in.  As your baby becomes more mobile adventurous, he will slowly start to leave your side in new situations.  However, he may glance back at you periodically for reassurance.  Give him a smile and encouraging nod to let him know you are there for him and proud of his independence.  He may also come back to you periodically to “touch base” and then venture out again.

Your baby develops an attachment to another object.  An older baby or toddler may find comfort in a “lovey” also known as a transitional object.  He uses it as a replacement for you, his most beloved.  When you aren’t around, or even when you are, he holds the object to feel closeness to something else he loves.  This is very normal and another sign your baby loves you.

We hope you and your baby have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

10 Reasons why you Should Eat Chocolate this Valentine’s Day

Chocolate as a health food?  Who ever heard of such a thing?!?!  In reasonable doses some types of chocolate are actually good for you.  Today we’re sharing 10 reasons why you should eat chocolate this Valentine’s Day:

Reason #1:  Cacao, chocolate in its purest form, is considered a superfood.  It contains powerful disease-fighting antioxidants and natural chemicals that strengthen and improve the body.  Cacao can be used as a raw ingredient in smoothies, shakes and energy drinks as well as many other recipes to boost their nutrients and offer a healthy dose of this scrumptious superfood.

Reason #2:  Dark chocolate is the healthiest type of chocolate because it contains the most cacao and less sugar, butter and other unhealthy ingredients.  For this reason, dark chocolate may taste slightly bitterer than other less-healthy types of chocolate like milk chocolate and white chocolate.

truth about chocolate__1452885598_50.243.196.179Reason #3:  Dark chocolate is good for your heart.  Due to its high content of antioxidants, dark chocolate supports healthy blood and blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels, which keeps the cardiovascular system running smoothly.  Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate daily may reduce risk of heart disease by up to 33%.

Reason #4:  The supercharged antioxidants known as flavonoids found in cacao are anti-inflammatories.  Inflammation is believed to be the root cause of many life-threatening degenerative diseases as well as sources of internal pain.  Controlling inflammation is a key aspect of sustained health and longevity.

Reason #5:  Cacao may also reduce symptoms of diabetes.  Because it contains powerful nutrients, it can improve the body’s ability to tolerate sugar by reducing insulin resistance.  For millions of people who suffer from diabetes or are at risk of the disease, cacao can be a phenomenal all-natural health supplement.

Reason #6:  Chocolate releases feel-good chemical reactions in the body.  It just makes you happy!  Due to a variety of ingredients, chocolate contains and stimulates the neurotransmitter serotonin and the amino acid tryptophan, both of which contribute to feelings of joy and satisfaction.

Reason #7:  Dark chocolate has anti-aging properties to help you live longer and look better.  Researchers say regular consumption of dark chocolate can add two years to your life expectancy.  Additionally, antioxidants found in dark chocolate help keep skin cells vibrant for a more youthful appearance.

Reason #8:  Chocolate can put you in the mood for sex.  It contains phenylethylamine, a natural compound that triggers endorphins that stimulate desire and attraction.  This is one of the reasons why chocolate is associated with romance.

Reason #9:  Chocolate helps you relax, even the smell of it.  Getting a whiff of chocolate activates theta brain waves that calm your entire body.  Even if you never take a bit of a chocolate bar or sip of your hot cocoa, just by sniffing it you’re still reaping the benefits.

Reason #10:  Dark chocolate may support memory.  Overall, chocolate increases blood flow including to key areas of the brain.  Good blood circulation is vital to cognition, especially as we age.  Therefore, chocolate may help retain memory and prevent symptoms of dementia over time.

Warning:  Excessive consumption of chocolate is not good for your health as it adds calories and fat to your diet.  Also, because chocolate contains caffeine, be cautious of how much chocolate you eat while breastfeeding. 

We hope you enjoy a healthy dose of chocolate this Valentine’s Day!

Sharing Childcare Responsibilities May Result in Better Relationships

Looking to improve your love life around Valentine’s Day?  The secret may lie in how you and your spouse choose to parent.  The way you split parenting responsibilities may have a direct impact on your satisfaction in your relationship, including your sex life.  Could a path to a better marriage be that simple?  Read on to find out what the research shows.

A study from Georgia State University found that those families who had close to equal childcare arrangements between mothers and fathers feel most satisfied in their marriages and in the bedroom.  The study examined nearly 500 families from low-to-middle income households.  It divided them into three categories:  those who split childcare equally, those where the mother took on the primary childcare responsibilities and those where the father took on the primary childcare responsibilities.

Sharing Childcare__1452885192_50.243.196.179The findings were that splitting childcare equally resulted in the greatest satisfaction within the marriage for both the mothers and fathers.  This was measured by level of conflict, overall feelings of happiness and sex life.  Marriages where the father took on the primary parenting also showed high results whereas marriages where the mothers took most responsibility for the kids scored the lowest in satisfaction in all key categories.

Interestingly, the study found that all three groups were having sex at around the same frequency.  But the quality of sex was what changed among those who split childcare equally.  Therefore, more equality in childcare responsibilities led to a better experience in the bedroom.

One researcher pointed out some insights about these interesting findings:  Sharing childcare responsibilities takes cooperation, communication, coordination and lots of teamwork.  These are also qualities that make up a good relationship.  Mastering these skills when taking care of children may translate to a better overall relationship because parents use them in other areas of their marriage.

Researchers hope that their findings will impact employer parental leave policies.  When people have the flexibility to equally support their families, they are more likely to be happy, healthy and more productive in the workplace.

If you’re hoping to improve your relationship in the New Year and as a Valentine’s Day resolution, consider starting with your parenting responsibilities.  It may lead to a better marriage and more romance in your future.